McAlister’s Deli is rolling out the next phase of their 2017 growth strategy, in which the brand will search for owners and locations for new restaurants in Columbus, Ohio. The fast-casual restaurant franchise already has locations in seven other cities in Ohio and plans to leverage brand awareness from those surrounding markets for a big push the state’s capital city.
Paul Macaluso, president of McAlister’s Deli, said Columbus is an essential next step in the brand’s growth strategy.
“We’ve carefully expanded throughout Ohio, making sure that every new restaurant is well positioned for success,” Macaluso said. “Now that we have a strong and enormously positive reputation throughout the state, it’s time to make a big entrance into Columbus.”
In many ways, Columbus is the ideal market for the McAlister’s concept, which pairs traditional American deli fare with fast-casual service. Columbus boasts a large working middle-class population, which is McAlister’s prime demographic. Office and service workers who are looking for reliable, affordable lunch options on a daily basis are likely to make a habit out of McAlister’s Deli. And compared to similarly sized cities, Columbus residents are far more likely to drive to and from work, which means that diners are less interested in the get-in-get-out service popular in more densely populated, walking cities.
Columbus is also more diverse than the average American city, which gives McAlister’s all-inclusive comfort-food concept an edge over more specialized brands in the segment.
“We do sandwiches, baked potatoes, soups, sides, and amazing sweet tea,” Macaluso said. “It’s real, hand-crafted food; everyone loves this stuff.”
Macaluso’s confidence is well earned. The Oxford, Mississippi-based deli franchise has expanded steadily in its 30-odd years and now has over 400 locations throughout the U.S. Macaluso attributes that success to the brand’s commitment to franchisee support.
“Our franchisees are ultimately the driving force behind our successful expansion initiatives,” said Macaluso. “That’s why our strong support system is such an integral part of our franchise system, we want our local owners to receive the best possible advantages in today’s ever-evolving restaurant industry.”
To make sure store owners have those advantages, McAlister’s offers a range of focused support services, including hands-on training in existing McAlister’s stores pre-opening and periodic visits from franchisee business consultants post-opening.
“On the corporate level, everything that we do is designed to set our franchisees up for success,” said Macaluso. “Between guiding them through the grand opening process and making ourselves accessible to lend a helping hand whenever needed, our top priority is ensuring that the McAlister’s model is working in every market it calls home. By helping our franchisees reach their full potential, whether they’re single or multi-unit operators, we’re helping position the McAlister’s brand for continued growth in the long run.”
Macaluso is confident that the brand’s development team will quickly find capable and qualified owners for the new stores.
“Ultimately we’re just looking for smart, ambitious people who have a passion for the brand,” said Macaluso. “It’s not like you need a special degree. Our processes have been fine-tuned and are easily applied.”
Between Ohio’s plum demographics and the brand's dedicated franchisee support system, new McAlister’s owners in Columbus will be uniquely well positioned for success, and the city may well prove to be one of McAlister’s most lucrative markets.